The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County brings local history to life with CONTENTdm

The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County has used OCLC’s CONTENTdm to showcase its digital collections since 2014. The library was drawn to CONTENTdm because it makes it easier for researchers and library patrons to find the information they need by presenting genealogy and history resources and the important metadata for these items. Many types of collections can be featured and linked, all in one system. Through CONTENTdm, the library makes genealogical and historical resources downloadable for offline viewing and searching, so that researchers can review items on their own time and for their own needs. CONTENTdm also provides full-text searching and the ability to search across multiple collections.

With CONTENTdm, libraries can increase the visibility of their digital collections and make them more discoverable. CONTENTdm enables the storage, editing and display of digital collections, making them accessible online for searchers worldwide.

The library has many historical treasures in its Genealogy and Local History collections. These include social directories, family and regional histories, property tax assessments, street directories, descriptions of Cincinnati landmarks, neighborhoods, institutions, historic events and biographies of prominent citizens. The most popular resources in the library’s collections are the directories for cities and businesses. CONTENTdm provides the capability for patrons to search across all of the directories at once.

Tags have been added in the library’s collections, like the Cincinnati History collection, to bring together different materials across various collections. This allows patrons to see across collections and also view related items from different collections.

The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County used CONTENTdm’s Website Configuration Tool to create hundreds of custom searches for its Inland Rivers Photograph collection, which includes photographs of scenes along the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. These items are also housed in a physical display at the library, and the online, custom searches match the physical folders where the items are stored at the library. Library staff value the ability to create custom, editable searches in CONTENTdm, so that patrons and researchers can find what they are looking for faster by being able to select from hundreds of specific search options.

CONTENTdm’s related links were used in the Althea Hurst Scrapbook collection to link full, digitized pages of the scrapbook to individual items from the scrapbook pages in the collection. This collection details a trip that four teachers took in 1938 to Canada, Northern Europe, Nazi Germany, Eastern Europe and France.

The library is continuing its focus on genealogy by creating digitized collections related to surnames and family history. Library staff recently scanned a collection about soldiers who died in World War I, which includes information about each solider and photographs of their graves.

Digitized image from collection of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County